The Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has written the foreword to a forthcoming book about the life of his murdered wife, Sharon Tate, reports the New York Post.
Tate was killed by followers of Charles Manson in 1969, along with three friends who were staying with her at the Los Angeles home she shared with her husband. The 26-year-old actor was due to give birth just two weeks after her death.
Polanski, who was out of town when the attacks took place, writes in the foreword: "Even after 40 years, it is difficult to write about Sharon. It is impossible, of course, to imagine what might have been if Sharon had lived. But this book allows me to remember what was."
The book, titled Recollection, has been put together by Sharon's sister Debra and will be published in the US next month. It also features contributions from its subject's co-stars on the 1967 cult drama Valley of the Dolls, Patty Duke, Joan Collins and Jane Fonda. The last writes: "She was very pregnant the last time I saw her at that house and turned down a joint that was being passed around."
SHE was a beauty queen, model and movie star, a 1960s' style icon whose influence is still felt in film and fashion today.
Yet Sharon Tate's life has been eclipsed by her horrific death: a night of senseless slaughter in which she and four friends were slain by Charles Manson's crazed followers at her mansion north of Beverly Hills.
As the 45th anniversary of her murder approaches later this year, Sharon's sister Debra Tate has written a book, filled with previously unseen photographs, celebrity tributes and affectionate words from those who loved her, including her husband, controversial film director Roman Polanski.
"Sharon lived an amazing life filled with potential but it's tragic that today she's remembered primarily for her death," says Debra. "She's remembered for her killers. The slime-ball dregs of society who stole her from the world. Her death has overshadowed her life.
"It's ironic that she's been discovered by a new generation of fans who emulate her style, make-up, hair and fashion sense in a 1960s revival but in doing so they move further away from who she was as a person. I hope to remind people who Sharon Tate really was."
Tate was a gorgeous 26-year-old rising Hollywood screen siren who was eight-and-a-half months' pregnant with Polanski's son when she was stabbed 16 times by Manson's "family" of fanatics.
One of her four killers, Susan Atkins, soaked a towel in Tate's blood and scrawled "PIG" on her front door. "I didn't relate to Sharon Tate as being anything but a store mannequin," Atkins said at her trial. "She kept begging and pleading and pleading and begging and I got sick of listening to her so I stabbed her."
The slaying of Tate alongside her friends - Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski, plus Steven Parent, who had been visiting the estate's caretaker - stunned America. Many stars fled Hollywood. All erected security fences around their homes as the killers remained on the loose for three months.
Sharon Tate's performances in films including Eye Of The Devil and Valley Of The Dolls were largely forgotten as her demise achieved mythic status. But Debra hopes that her book, Sharon Tate: Recollection, will remind the world that her sister was not only a murder victim but also a Golden Globe-nominated actress and a woman with much left to offer.
"Had her life not been taken, Sharon could have been huge in Hollywood," says Debra, 61, a divorced Hollywood make-up artist at her ranch in Southern California. "She'd shown comedic skills in her films and I think could have followed the same career path as Goldie Hawn. And she was one of the most giving, selfless people alive, always thinking of others."
Her widowed husband Roman Polanski, who was not at the house on the night of the murders, penned the foreword and contributed to the book. Debra says: "We remained close through the years. Had she not died, I believe that Sharon and Roman would still be together."
It's a bold claim, for Polanski - who fled America in 1977 rather than face sentencing for the rape of a 13-year-old girl, living in self-imposed exile ever since - had a turbulent relationship with Tate. He wanted an "open marriage" while she craved his fidelity.
Movie producer Peter Evans recalls her confiding: "We have a good arrangement. Roman lies to me and I pretend to believe him."
In the book Polanski, 80, praises her tolerance, saying: "To live with me was proof of her patience, because to be near me must be an ordeal."
Debra's book contains images from Tate's movies, fashion shoots, and many previously unseen snaps, yet it ends its fairytale about the soldier's daughter rising from model to star with no mention of her terrible end in 1969. The words "murder" and "massacre" do not appear.
Yet Tate's family long ago ensured that she will never be forgotten. After her murder, Sharon's mother Doris became a ferocious advocate for victims' rights, pioneering changes in California law that allow victims' families to speak at the sentencing and parole hearings of killers. Since 1998 Debra has spoken at every Manson family member's parole hearing to ensure that her sister's slayers remain incarcerated.
Sharon Tate's films were not critical successes in their day but many of them have since become cult classics and a re-evaluation of her career has led many to recognise her potential to become one of the Hollywood greats.
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